Two Way Radios

Two way radios are communication devices that transmit and receive signals, allowing people to communicate with each other from a distance. Two way radios are also known as transceivers or a walkie talkie. Two way radios come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they can be used for a variety of purposes. The most common type of two way radio is the handheld radio.

two way radios

There are a variety of two way radio products available on the market. Manufacturers such as Hytera and Motorola Two way radios can be used for communication between two people, or for group communication. They can be used for short range or long range communication, and can be either handheld or mobile. Some two way radio products are designed for specific purposes, such as police and fire radios, while others are designed for general use. Two way radios can be purchased as individual units, or as part of a system. Two way radios can be an important part of any emergency preparedness plan. They can be used to communicate with family and friends in case of an emergency, or to coordinate rescue efforts. Two way radios can also be used for recreation, such as hiking, camping, and boating.

mobile two way radio

Mobile two way radios, which are mounted in vehicles. They are typically used by people who need to communicate while driving, such as taxi drivers and truck drivers. Mobile radios require a suitable antenna to be mounted on the roof of the vehicle. Where possible the best location is the centre of the roof.

Repeater Base Stations

By using a repeater base station, two way radio users can communicate with each other over a much larger area than would be possible without the repeater. Repeaters bases require a power supply and an antenna to function. They are usually situated in the centre of the area to be covered, ensuring that the two way radios can both transmit to the repeater and receive the repeater signal. When a radio signal is received by the repeater's receiver, it is then retransmitted by the transmitter, providing coverage to a larger area. Repeater base stations can be used in a variety of situations, such as providing communications between buildings in an office complex or between units in a military installation.

repeater base station

Walkie Talkies

walkie talkies

A walkie talkie, also known as a two way radio, is a handheld device that allows you to communicate with others over a radio frequency on one channel. Walkie talkies in the UK and EU are typically referred to as consumer or leisure radios, whereas two way radios are typically referred to as business radios.

A walkie talkie is often the first piece of radio equipment that a child will use. They are low powered, light and simple to use. Kids walkie talkies can usually be purchased for under £30.00 which is great value.

Licence Free Radios

These radios do not require an Ofcom business radio licence, hence they are called licence free. They may also be referred to as non-licenced or PMR 446 radios, (Personal Mobile Radios) and the 446 refers to the 446 MHz frequency they operate on. As above licence free radios are typically called walkie talkies as they are mainly for consumer and leisure purposes. That being said there are professional business radios which are not classified as walkie talkies, but rather licence free business two way radios.

Licenced Radios


Licenced radios require a licence to legally operate them. In the UK, you require an Ofcom licence, in the US you need a FCC business radio license. Each country has its own communications regulator. If you want to operate two way communications devices in a specific country you will legally be require to obtain a licence from that countries regulator.

A licenced two way radio has a greater maximum power output for long range communication. For handheld radios the power output is a maximum of 5 watts and for mobile radios it is 40 watts

Marine Radios

Marine two way radios are an essential piece of equipment for any boater. You can communicate with the Coast Guard and any other boats in your vicinity, as well as other emergency services. All marine VHF radios are designed to operate within the VHF maritime mobile band. They are not capable of working on land channels as they don't have CTCSS

marine radios

Two Way Radio Accessories

two way radio accessories

All two way radios require accessories to function. The most basic accessory being a charger. Licence free business and licenced two way radios utilise lithium-ion batteries which need to be charged daily, but unlike Ni-mh batteries do not suffer from memory effect. Walkie talkies, as in consumer or leisure radios typically use rechargeable AA Ni-mh battery packs. Handheld radio accessories consist of, chargers, remote speaker mics, wired and Bluetooth earpieces and headsets. Mobile radio accessories consist of external speakers, remote speaker mics, installation kits, antennas and antenna cabling. Repeater base station accessories consist of installation kits, antennas and antenna cabling

Two Way Radio System

A two way radio system consists of various two way radio equipment, combined to create site-wide radio solutions. While it is possible to combine radio brands into a single system, it is easier to use a single brand.

An example of a radio system set up would be the use of radio equipment on a steel manufacturing plant. These sites are usually very large with multiple buildings. Here you will find many vehicles moving around site, cranes operating, a large number of operatives in various noisy locations and of course the steel industry is a very high risk work location.

Operatives will be using handheld two way radios connected to either a noise cancelling headset, earpiece or remote speak mic to provide handsfree operations.

The vehicles will be set up to have mobile radios installed with an external speaker, suitable antenna and remote speaker mic

Cranes will have mobile radios installed with an external speaker, possibly a foot PTT (push-to-talk) and antenna

Depending who needs to communicate with who there will be a number of repeater stations in the optimal receive and transmit locations. This ensures the signal transmit over a longer range.

With the advent of digital two way radio products, the repeater base stations can now be connected to each other using the on-site IP network. This means that a dispatch system can be connected to the repeaters and the dispatch person can manage the whole system from a control room. This is perfect for site wide emergency alerts.

Analogue Two Way Radios

Before the introduction of digital two way radios, analogue radios were the only available option. Analogue radios are still used today. Consumer walkie talkies are mainly analogue.

There are some specific uses for analogue two way radios, namely for crane operators and banksmen. Analogue radios offer instant communication which when a crane operator is conducting a blind lift with only the instructions of the banksmen over the radio, every millisecond is crucial.

Digital Two Way Radios

A digital two way radio is a device that allows users to communicate with each other using digital radio signals. These radios are becoming increasingly popular due to their many advantages over traditional analogue radios.

Digital two way radios offer improved sound quality, longer battery life, and more features and options than analogue radios. In addition, digital two way radios are more resistant to interference than analogue radios, making them ideal for use in areas with high levels of background noise.

Two Way Radio Manufacturers

There are many two way radio manufacturers around the world, but there are only a small number of quality radio brands. The leading brands are:

  • Motorola Solutions
  • Hytera
  • Kenwood Communications
  • Icom
  • Tait
  • Sepura

Motorola (Motorola Solutions) are the best two way radio equipment manufacturers in the world. Their history goes back to 1930 when Galvin Manufacturing Corporation introduced the Motorola radio, one of the first commercially successful car two way radio.

Motorola have recently launched the new R7 digital two way radio range which is likely to succeed the DP handheld radio range in the coming months.

Hytera are chasing the Motorola crown. Hytera have recently launched a whole new range of radio equipment to the market.

Two way radio products from the leading brands all have great build quality, which is required to attain a dust proof and waterproof IP67 rating. Their customers operate in a variety of environments so they need products that have numerous features to fulfil their needs.

Two way radio manufacturers are also rapidly adopting push to talk over cellular in the form of PoC radios and PTT apps. Motorola, Hytera, ICOM, Entel all have their own PoC radios which in simple terms are two way radios that use mobile or cellular networks to transmit simplex two way radio communication.

Two Way Radio Frequencies

The are two types of radio frequency used in two way radios, which are UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency). UHF frequencies are used in and around buildings and have a shorter transmission range. VHF frequencies are used over more open areas and can transmit over a longer range.

Two Way Radio Range

The range of two way radios is always a big question. We could attempt to provide estimates here but there are numerous factors to consider and it needs way more explanation than we can go into here. In brief, the range will depend on the type of frequency used, the type of handset you have, how good the antenna is, the power output of the radio, atmospheric conditions, the geography of the land, what obstacles are in the way of the transmission. Then, for a truly long range, it depends if you are using repeater bases to boost the signal as these can significantly increase the transmission range.

Two Way Radio Industry Uses

When you first start being introduced to two way radios you may wonder who on earth would use them. But when you start to look around you, you will find them being used in virtually every industry you can think of.

Here is a list of just some of the industries that use two way radios:

  • Small retail shops
  • Large retail outlets
  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas Plants
  • Chemical Plants
  • Wind Farms
  • Offshore Platforms
  • Traffic Management Teams
  • Road Repair Crews
  • Railway Maintenance teams
  • London Underground
  • Local Councils
  • Educational Facilities
  • Events
  • Leisure and Hospitality
  • Security Personnel
  • Fire Services
  • Police
  • Military

Two Way Radio Services

There are a number of two way radio services you may need if you find you have a two way radio requirement or if you have already purchased some. If your radios are faulty and within warranty you will need to contact a supplier to facilitate a warranty claim. Outside of warranty, radio suppliers can provide a quote to repair your radios. If you have an additional radio requirement but want to limit your capital expenditure you can hire two way radios. If you have mission critical radios you can contact a supplier to arrange a maintenance contract to ensure they are always operational.

The Many Benefits of a Two Way Radio

There are so many many benefits and reasons why you should use a two way radio for your business or leisure activity.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Instant communication
  • One-to-one and one-to-any voice comms
  • No mobile cell service required
  • Radios are highly durable
  • Cost effective
  • Increase efficiency
  • Very reliable
  • Purpose-built devices

Our Thoughts

The two way radio industry is huge and with it comes a large number of brands wanting customers to buy their products. Choosing the right product can be difficult to do and as such you should really get some expert advice before proceeding. Our advise would be to contact some suppliers, assess various brands, see if they offer a price match to get the best deal, decide what features you really need and any other factors that are important to your application. If in doubt and budget is not a constraint then Motorola is always a safe bet.